Seniors propel Alabama back into NCAA finale
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
HUTCHINSON, Kan. – When people think of Alabama athletics, the first sports team that comes to mind is football. Some people have called the football team, coached under the watchful eye of Nick Saban, a dynasty, winning three national championships in a four-year span.
If Crimson Tide sports fans looked a little harder, they would realize that the men’s golf team isn't far behind – thanks to its three senior leaders: Cory Whitsett, Bobby Wyatt and Trey Mullinax.
It’s unimaginable to think that just a year before the trio came to Tuscaloosa, the team, which included All-Americans Bud Cauley and Hunter Hamrick, didn’t make it to nationals.
PHOTOS: NCAA Championships (Quarterfinals)
View images of the eight teams in Monday's quarterfinals during the Men's Division 1 NCAA Golf Championships at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
Now, the team has advanced to its third straight championship match appearance – sporting a win and a loss.
“One does feel a little better than the other one,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell quipped in his post-round interview.
Give credit where credit is due – Seawell and his seniors. He brought these players in knowing that they were going to change the face of the Alabama program.
“They came to school here to do things like this,” Seawell added. “They are the engine. They are the energy that allows us to do that, and with that being said, I'm just really proud for them. They get one more round in an Alabama Crimson Tide shirt, and I'm glad today wasn't their last round.”
Freshman Robby Shelton and third-year sophomore Tom Lovelady also added a lot to the 2013-14 team, and Seawell is just as proud of them as he is of his seniors.
Dating back to the 2013 Schenkel Invitational, the Tide have won 11 events. But they suffered through a bit of a spring slump – no victories in three tournaments – only to find their way again at the Mason Rudolph Championship.
“We were still living off maybe what we had done for a couple years, or at least the year before … we weren't playing very good golf,” Seawell added.
Since its losing streak, Alabama has posted three consecutive wins – and now will be able to rely on the experience of the past two seasons in its match-up with fourth-ranked Oklahoma State.
“It's the funnest. It's the most intense pressure; it's the most emotional day in my golf career, and I'm really excited we get to do it one more time,” Wyatt said.
A dynasty depends on it.